The Take Away: Phenom Grassroots TipOff Classic

With tournaments such as, Phenom Hoop Classic and Phenom Hoop Challenge it’s no wonder that Phenom Hoops had Greensboro, NC jumping with basketball talent the weekend of April 24th. They hosted the Grassroots Tip Off Classic featuring 120 teams, 1200 players, and 189 games. With so many players in attendance, you can only imagine the talent overload. Here are the ones that stood out:

Daniel Jackson

When you envision a power player, you usually conjure up someone between 6’5 to 6’10, 200+lbs of muscle and an overall powerhouse. Daniel Jackson of Middle Creek High School (Apex, NC) defies that notion and is arguably one of the strongest players in the NC C/O 2017. On several occasions he put his strength on display, looking like a man among boys. Standing at 6’2, Jackson is listed as a guard but he plays like a Power Forward. He’s not breaking his man down off the dribble, but he does a good job getting to his spots. He’s extremely comfortable playing in the paint and thrives when attacking the basket. Jackson finishes exceptionally well through contact, using his strength to overpower the opposition. It’s easy to see where his power comes from, as he’s a star FS on his high school football team and practically lives in the weight room. Jackson’s best attribute is his relentlessness when crashing the boards. While he’s probably never going to be the tallest player on the court, that does not deter him from going after every rebound. Once he gets his hands on the ball, you can go ahead and mark that down in the stat sheet as his board. Defensively, he’s just as intense and physical. So much so, he often gets himself into foul trouble. While Daniels doesn’t say much, he is a leader by example. He lays it all out and tries to will his team to victory through his actions. Jackson is definitely the nucelus for Raleigh Elite who leads his team to battle every time he steps on the court. Once he tampers down a little on defense and stays out of foul trouble he’ll be able to stay on the floor longer.

Markeise Crutchfield

Markeise Crutchfield of Team 1 on 1 was one of the more physical players at the Grassroots TOC. At 6’4 he would likely be a guard at the next level, and would do just fine, but currently he’s a Power Forward type player. The 2015 Forward out of Riverside High School (Durham, NC) has a Zach Randolph style of play. Although he’s doesn’t tower over many players on the court, Crutchfield uses his frame to strong arm his way to the basket. Defenders bounce off of him as he makes his way to the rim. When he catches the ball on the wing, Crutchfield has a “Punisher” mindset, as he immediately goes extra hard when matched with a smaller defender. He also has good foot work and able to finesse while in the paint. Crutchfield also does well following his shots and crashing the offensive boards – easily collecting “garbage” points. On defense he uses his strength, along with deceptively quick lateral movement to keep his man in front of him. As Crutchfield makes his way to the next level, he’ll have to work on his stamina. During the course of the game his aggressiveness starts to fade, likely due to running out of gas. Once he’s able to get his wind up and play majority of the game in attack mode, he’ll truly be a force to reckon with.

Justin King

In terms of a true Point Guard, there was none truer during the Grassroots TOC than Fayetteville Elite’s Justin King. The 6’0 Terry Sanford High School (Fayetteville, NC), C/O 2016 floor general has a natural feel for the game and has the ability to adjust in any situation that is presented. King is a pass first Point Guard that uses his instinct and quickness to navigate through defense and make the right play. Off the dribble, King made it evident that there aren’t very many players that can stop him. Along with his quickness, he’s extremely crafty with the ball, making it difficult for defenders to stay in front of him. This puts King in a position to demand help defense or he’ll get to the basket for an easy layup at will. When he breaks down the defense the first thing he does is look for the open man because he knows the help defender is coming. King is also extremely efficient in the open court. He gets up the floor in a hurry and if there’s not an outlet waiting, he can get to the rim and finish. Throughout the game King main priority is to run plays and make sure his teammates get touches. He’s also a consistent shooter who can knock down the 3 ball or hit the 15 foot shot. Defensively, he does a good job sliding his feet and staying in front of his man. He’s energetic and communicates, making sure everyone is aware and ready. While King is a dynamic Point Guard, it would be nice to see him shoot the ball more. Being the leader of a team comes at a cost of walking a thin line. Knowing when to pass, when to shoot, when to turn up the energy are all burdens leaders have to bear. While King has the passing and energy aspect down pack, it’s the shooting that he needs to do more of. He has good form, a smooth release, and nice arch. Once King is able to better identify the times he needs to take over and shoot the ball, he’ll be a real problem for all challengers.

Deondre Moore

 

Carolina Crossover’s Deondre Moore was one of the more shifty guards in the tournament. The  C/O 2015 Point Guard out of Dalton L. McMichael High School (Mayodan, NC) is a tough, hard-nosed player who leaves it all on the floor. Moore is one of those players whose coach will never have to question his work ethic or wonder if he’s holding back. He’s highly competitive and is seemingly always on the attack. Moore is a downhill type player who can beat his man with speed and quickness. In addition, he has swift handles that helps him break his man down. Moore is also a clutch player. When his team needs a bucket, you can count on him to deliver. Along with his capability to get to the basket, he’s a solid shooter who can knock it down – both contested and unguarded. On defense Moore is extremely active. In a sense, he’s almost daunting, the way he hounds his man both on and off the ball. While he may get looked over due to his height (standing at 5’10), he makes up for it with energy and effort on both ends of the floor. Overall, he’s the type of player that teammates love and opponents hate. Moore brings not only the tangibles, but the intangibles to the table. Wherever he  lands at the next level, he will do well.

Shemarri Allen

The first time seeing Team Vision’s Shemarri Allen was as a middle schooler in the 2014 Elite 75 in Charlotte, NC. Even though this was an event consisting of predominantly, if not all, high schoolers, Allen held his own. Standing at 5’8, the C/O 2018 Point Guard out of T.C. Robinson High School (Asheville, NC) is as courageous as they come. Allen’s small size is in no way an indicator of how much heart he has. While easily the smallest player on his team, it’s clear that he is the center that keeps them grounded. Although he doesn’t start for Team Vision, he provides a much needed boost coming off the bench. Allen is a sharp ball handler, never doing too much and getting to his spots in the most efficient manner. He makes sure to protect the ball, keeping it out of reach from his defenders and runs the plays the coach calls from the sideline. Aside from handling the rock, Allen is a sniper from the 3 point line. At one point he knocked down 4 back-to-back 3’s, before the team realized he’s not the guy you want to leave open. In addition, Allen does a phenomenal job running the baseline and coming off screens to get open for his shot. With these attributes he does more than enough to hold his own while playing up in 17U, however, his best characteristic is his communication. It’s rare to see a young player take on the role of a leader, but Allen has no problem carrying that weight on his shoulders. On the defensive end is where Allen probably has the most trouble. Since he is a smaller guard, it’s a little easier for the opposition to muscle pass him and get to the basket. However, this does not take away from his aggressiveness on that end of the floor. Allen is tenacious and active on D, and he makes sure it’s a battle and no easy task for his man to do anything. With his skill level and high motor, Allen will be a name you come to know in the near future. It won’t be long before college coaches start jumping on this kid.

 

Isaiah Tatum

Normally, in high school basketball you have guards who can handle the ball, you have shooters to stretch the floor and you have big men. Then there are times you find kids that can just put the ball in the basket. Raleigh Elite’s, C/O 2018 Point  Guard, Isaiah Tatum is that kid. Whether it’s an inside pull-up or the 3 ball, Tatum seems to always find the bottom of the net. His bread and butter is his jumper, the last thing any opposing team wants to do is leave him open. He’s a light’s out shooter with picture perfect from and smooth release. Monitoring him since last summer, he’s added an extra dimension to his game, which is attacking the basket way more versus relying on his jumper. Tatum is always a handful for his opponents because he has so many offensive weapons in his arsenal. Defensively, Tatum has room for improvement. While he has the capability to defend at his position, he falls short in effort and intensity department at times. The lack of energy makes it difficult to move laterally and stay in front of his man. Often putting him in foul trouble and keeping him off the floor. Another area of improvement for Tatum is overall consistency. As skilled as he is, he has the tendency to fade and lose steam, especially when playing against lesser competition. Keep in mind that Tatum is only a freshman at Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) and has the work ethic to overcome his deficinces. He’s already ahead of the curve from an offenisve perspective. Once Tatum learns how to keep his foot on the gas and maintain a steady aggressive pace on both ends of the floor he’s going to transform into the type of guard that colleges look for.

Cameron Hamilton

Metrolina Havoc’s (15U) Cameron Hamilton is one of those players that leaves an immediately impression on you as you watch him play. The Vance High School (Charlotte, NC), C/O 2017 Point Guard plays with a fearlessness that makes him standout. Hamilton is an speedy guard who relentlessly attacks the paint. In addition he’s a reliable shooter that’s not affraid to take the big shots. Hamilton is a shifty guard that can make light work out of the defense. He has good handle and foot work that allows him to get to the rim and he finishes with precision. He’s a leader by example who doesn’t hesitate to take charge or shoulder the burden of scoring a basket when his team needs it. At times, he can take ill-advised shots, however, the intension behind them is solid. Regardless, he can score in clusters and fill up the stat sheet.  Defensively, he does well keeping up with his man. Once Hamilton plays with the same ferocity on both ends of the floor he will elevator his game to the next level. Overall, he’s a high intensity player who competes every time he’s out on the floor. Only a sophomore, it’s safe to assume that he’ll continue to grow and develop. As Hamilton continues to put in work, improve on his decisions making, and be aggressive on both ends, LOOK OUT! He’ll be a name you’ll want to watch for out of Charlotte.

Maurice Wilcox

Word of God’s (Raleigh, NC) C/O 2018 Maurice Wilcox is a flat out shooter! It is said with no exaggeration that he can pull from 3 to 4 feet from behind the 3 point line with ease. Wilcox is a 5’9 Point Guard that has quick hands and feet. He’s crafty with the ball and has no difficulty getting to his spots on the court. Wilcox has the ability to set-up his team and run plays, however, he can get caught up overdribbling. Even though he has the handles and the craftiness, he’ll need to improve on his awareness and recognize when the opportunity presents itself and just blow by his man. Regardless, the Raleigh Elite (16U) guard makes up for most shortcomings with his overall aggressiveness. He has high self-confidence and swagger that enables him to carry his team. When you need a big time shot or end a scoring drought, you want the ball in Wilcox’s hands! He’s unphased by the high pressure moments almost has if he has ice running through his veins. If his team is down by 10 to 15 points, give the ball to Wilcox and he can single handedly bring you back in the game. Defensively, he’s energetic and active. Wilcox does well moving his feet and keeping his hands up, making it difficult for his man to get pass him. When in the zone defense Wilcox quickly gets to his spots when the ball is moved around the perimeter, preventing easy shots. One of the things he’ll need to improve on his getting to the paint. Although Wilcox is an exceptional shooter, there are moments he relies on his jumper too much. Once he understands how to mix it up, adding drives to the  basket, pull-up jumpers inside the perimeter, along with his 3 point shot he can transform into an elite guard. College coaches will want to keep an eye out for Wilcox.

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